Kia ora, it's been a while but here we are, back at the UFC 1-Outs desk and ready go bonkers for UFC 205. Following the UFC has had to take a back seat as I cover plenty of other sports and this coincided with a bunch of fight-cards that didn't quite tickle my MMA antenna, unlike UFC 205 which will go down in New York and is headlined by Eddie Alvarez defending his lightweight title against Conor McGregor.
As is usually the case with major events like this one - it's the first time the UFC's holding an event in NYC - there's a card full to the brim of fights that you should probably watch. Khabib Nurmagomedov is lurking in the UFC Fight Pass Prelims where he'll take on Michael Johnson for example. Nurmagomedov is a fair chance of fighting for the lightweight belt next and is 23-0 in pro fights, yet here he is fighting in the prelims section.
Frankie Edgar also features in the prelims section, taking on Jeremy Stephens. What makes Nurmagomedov and Edgar intriguing fighters to watch on this card is that they are both ranked #2, with Nurmagomedov ranked behind Alvarez and Tony Ferguson in the lightweight division while Edgar is ranked #2 in the featherweight division behind McGregor and Jose Aldo (who knows wtf's doing with Aldo). McGregor is on his quest to hold two belts at the same time and if he manages to achieve this in beating Alvarez, he could find himself up against Edgar and/or Nurmagomedov in the near future.
Every fight on the main card is worthy of being a main event, or co-main event on a different card. This will start with Miesha Tate looking to get back on the wagon, up against Raquel Pennington before Kelvin Gastelum takes on Donald Cerrone. Gastelum is ranked #5 while Cerrone is #6 in the welterweight division and the winner of this fight will be keen to make a point of putting themselves in the frame to fight for the title in a few fights' time.
Chris Weidman will face off against Yoel Romero in the middleweight division and Weidman's trying to seal a title fight against Michael Bisping with a win here. Romero is dangerous though and he'll give Weidman's wrestling strength a huge test, while also offering some explosive power. Keep an eye on the middleweight division because this is where quasi-kiwi Robert Whittaker competes and he's set to headline UFC Fight Night Melbourne in a few weeks time. Whittaker is ranked #7 and he's fighting #8 ranked Derek Brunson, we'll take a closer look at that soon enough.
There's the all-Polish women's strawweight title fight as Joanna Jedrzejczyk will fight Karolina Kowalkiewicz. This will add a funky twist as the event moves towards the main event, with Poland's finest female fighters not being too fond of each other and with the belt on the line, this will be a nice test for Jedrzejczyk who has handled most UFC challengers rather easily.
After defeating Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley will defend his welterweight title for the first time against Stephen Thompson in a stylistic match up that will make MMA nerds salivate. 'Wonderboy' Thompson is an artist in the octagon, striking with precision while he moves swiftly and coming up against Woodley's wrestling and one-punch power, Wonderboy will need to move swiftly.
Both fighters will know exactly what the other is trying to do and they are skillful enough to ensure that this is a non-stop highlight reel. The narratives behind each fighter are also interesting as this is the first test to see if Woodley is genuinely capable of holding the belt for some time, while Thompson is fighting for the belt for the first time and has been steadily working towards this fight for a while now.
The McGregor vs Diaz fights were fun and delivered the goods in every way possible, although Alvarez vs McGregor is building more anticipation inside of me. That the lightweight title belt is on the line is one reason for that and while McGregor vs Diaz was a beautiful battle between two vastly different fighters in true MMA fashion, that McGregor is fighting to take Alvarez's belt away from him and make history adds an extra layer to this fight.
Alvarez and McGregor are of similar stature, they go about their business with different methods though. Expect Alvarez to be more eager to gun for a takedown and his brawling style where he'll try to pin McGregor against the octagon and land a flurry of close-quarter blows, could make life difficult for McGregor who prefers to glide around the octagon.
McGregor is more precise with his strikes and offers greater variety and power in how he strikes. In touching Diaz up a few times, McGregor will be confident that his power is too much for his lightweight opponents but McGregor will need to be cautious as he won't want to give up an opportunity for Alvarez to take him down.
This is the UFC at its finest and regardless of who you think will win a fight or who you're supporting, there'll be a seemingly never-ending supply of match ups that will excite. If you're a slacker, just make sure you catch Alvarez vs McGregor and Woodley vs Thompson as they are fights that are delivered from the MMA deities.